Thirteen years later, while performing with Stars on Ice, Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After chemotherapy and surgery, Hamilton began skating again -- but with a different attitude. He had lived his entire life with a sense of dread and doom, worried that for every wonderful thing that happened, something terrible was going to follow it.
"But when I was diagnosed with cancer I realized that I'd had it all wrong. It wasn't that for every blessing there's an equal curse," he said. "It was that for every curse, for every setback, there's a phenomenal blessing. It started with my being an unwanted pregnancy, and I was adopted. I got sick, and I found skating. I'd failed; I succeeded. I went through the success part, which put me in touch with a really disappointing part of my character, to find my true self when I was diagnosed with cancer."
The greater the struggle, Hamilton said, the greater the feel of success. "A positive energy is the greatest energy," he told the new graduates, "and if I can leave you with anything, it's this: you will never, ever, ever regret taking the highest road in every situation.
Senior class president Melissa Ferraro joined her fellow class officers to present President Peggy R. Williams with the record-breaking 2004 class gift of $30,216. The money is supporting a number of projects, including IC Square, an area in the newly renovated snack bar that will be used to display College memorabilia.
In her Commencement address, Ferraro compared the tests facing the class of 2004 with the struggles that faced Frodo, the hero of Lord of the Rings. Just as the wizard Gandalf advised Frodo to trust in himself, Ferraro told her classmates to have faith in their own abilities.
"The knowledge and understanding that you have received while at Ithaca College should serve as a constant reminder of the person that you now are, as well as the person that you will strive to become," Ferraro said. "Despite the unfamiliar and indefinite paths that lie ahead, that strength, knowledge, and confidence will allow you to prevail as an individual who is diverse, educated, and strong in your own way. . . . We will all be tested throughout the future, but if we trust ourselves, we will continue to learn and experience."
Photos: top, Shai Eynav; bottom, Tom A. Mike